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FBI investigates Alaska Airlines door blow-out incident as potential crime

FBI - A;aska Airlines news
Image – US NTSB.

The development follows a harrowing mid-flight ordeal on January 5th, as passengers onboard the Alaska Airlines flight have been informed by the FBI that they might have been involved in a crime.

The incident on a Boeing 737 Max 9 led to an emergency landing after a door plug failure resulted in rapid cabin depressurisation.

A letter from the FBI’s Seattle division, penned by a victim specialist, was dispatched to the affected passengers, confirming that the bureau is investigating the case. The investigative process, as the letter highlighted, might be protracted, and updates on its progress are currently unavailable.

The communication to passengers stressed, ‘We have identified you as a possible victim of a crime,’ underscoring the entitlement of federal crime victims to specific services.

The revelation came to light through the Associated Press, courtesy of Mark Lindquist, an attorney representing some of the passengers suing Boeing. The letter aims to gather further information or concerns from the passengers, facilitating the ongoing FBI investigation.

Lindquist, vocal about the support for the Justice Department’s scrutiny into the matter, said their needed to be accountability, answers, and better standards of aviation safety. The involvement of the DOJ and FBI, he believes, will not only bolster their case but also contribute to broader safety measures for air travellers.

The FBI inquiry follows a 2022 guideline revision by the Justice Department regarding victim notifications in potential crimes. This amendment was partly motivated by criticisms from families of victims in two fatal Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes in 2018 and 2019, who argued their legal rights were overlooked during a 2021 settlement with Boeing.

Flight 1282, bound for California from Portland, Oregon, took a dramatic turn when its door plug dislodged, creating a massive breach in the aircraft’s structure and precipitating a rapid cabin depressurisation. The aircraft, carrying 171 passengers and six crew members, managed an emergency return to Portland without any critical injuries reported.

The incident led the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ground Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft globally. That decision was supported after United Airlines discovered issues related to door plug installations, including loose bolts, on the same model.

Six passengers from the Alaska Airlines flight have sought damages from Boeing, citing physical injuries and emotional trauma experienced by many, if not all, on board.

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